Abu Bakr…A Qur’anic Analysis

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آله وصحبه

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There are too many narrations to enumerate in reference to Abu Bakr’s virtues and merits. This article is a simple 2-point analysis about the one whom the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is reported to have said:

ما طلعت الشمس ولا غربت على أحد بعد النبيين والمرسلين خير من أبي بكر وعمر

“There is no one better, after the Prophets and Messengers upon whom the sun rises over and sets than Abu Bakr and Umar.”

[Ibn Hanbal, ‘Fada’il Sahabah’, 110; Ibn Hibban, ‘At-Thiqat’, 363; Khateeb, ‘Jaami al-Akhlaq’, 1716; Tareekh Dimishq, 11802 and others]

And about the one whom Umar رضي الله عنه said:

لو وزن إيمان أبي بكر بإيمان هذه الأمة لرجح به

“If the emaan (faith) of Abu Bakr is weighed against the emaan of the ummah, it would outweigh (the latter).” [Tareekh Dimishq, 11606; Tareekh Islam ad-Dhahabi, 2916]

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1. “ALLAH IS WITH US“:

Allaah سبحانه و تعالى Said about Musa and Haroon عليهم السلام, after they were ordered to go to Fir’awn to admonish and guide him:

قَالَ لَا تَخَافَا ۖ إِنَّنِي مَعَكُمَا أَسْمَعُ وَأَرَىٰ

“(Allaah) Said: Fear not, verily I am with you (both), Hearing and Seeing.”  [TaHa, 46 (see also 68)]

Allaah سبحانه و تعالى used similar phrases when describing the situation of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه during their time in the cave on their hijrah to Madinah. Abu Bakr was afraid the pagan Quraish might discover them and feared that some harm might touch the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم:

إِلَّا تَنصُرُوهُ فَقَدْ نَصَرَهُ اللَّهُ إِذْ أَخْرَجَهُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا ثَانِيَ اثْنَيْنِ إِذْ هُمَا فِي الْغَارِ

“If you help him (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) not (it does not matter), for Allaah did indeed help him when the disbelievers drove him out, the second of the two; when they were in the cave…”

When the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم saw his (Abu Bakr’s) grief increasing, he strengthened his heart with the news:

إِذْ يَقُولُ لِصَاحِبِهِ لَا تَحْزَنْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَنَا

“…he (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) said to his companion (Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه): “Grieve not, verily Allaah is with us.” [At-Tawbah, 40]

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم kept reassuring Abu Bakr and strengthening his resolve, saying:

يَا أَبَا بَكْرٍ، مَا ظَنُكَ بِاثْنَينِ اللهُ ثَالِثُهُمَا

“O Abu Bakr! What do you think about two, with Allaah as their third?” [Saheeh Muslim, 2381]

Thus Allaah “being with someone” assures them of His Support, Help, Victory and Protection. This is why Allaah then continued in the same Ayah:

فَأَنزَلَ اللَّهُ سَكِينَتَهُ عَلَيْهِ وَأَيَّدَهُ بِجُنُودٍ لَّمْ تَرَوْهَا

“And Allaah sent down His Sakeenah upon him, and strengthened him with forces that you saw not…”

Sakeenah comes from sukoon and denotes (dignified) calmness, quietness (of night), tranquillity, inner-peace etc. It was accorded to the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم – but some say it refers to Abu Bakr in order to eradicate his grief and reassure him.

Shaykh Salih Maghamisi demonstrates how the pronoun in the Ayah “Allaah sent down His Sakeenah upon him” is indeed speaking of Abu Bakr.

Thus we summarise: The words used in reference to Musa and Haroon :

تَخَافَا – (fear not)
إِنَّنِي مَعَكُمَا – (I am with you)

Words used in reference to Abu Bakr:

تَحْزَنْ – (grieve not)
إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَنَا – (verily Allaah is with us)

Both of these terms have appeared together in various context in seventeen Ayaat of Qur’an, for example:

وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ

“…and on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”

Reflecting the state in the Hereafter of those upon whom Allaah will have His Mercy. Grief is usually a characteristic of fear and the distinct differences between the two terms are inter-related to the mental and/or physical state (of harm) they both induce in a person.

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2. HE IS SIDDEEQ:

Abu Bakr never hesitated in his acceptance of the message of Islam and supported the Deen and the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم with his life and wealth. There was nothing that could sway his resolve from the truth; and after the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم returned to Makkah from the Isra’ and Mi’raaj, the Quraysh leaders tried to mock him at the impossibility of making such a journey in the span of one night. They went to Abu Bakr, and in an attempt to question his faith and ridicule the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, they said to him: “Do you know what your companion (i.e. the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم) is saying? He says he went to Jerusalem and came back in one night.” Abu Bakr immediately replied: “If he said that, then he is truthful (it is the truth).”

And for this reason, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم titled Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq (the [one who is himself] truthful one).  Sidq is a very powerful word in the Arabic language and denotes numerous meanings – these include: Utmost honesty (in speech and action); integrity where others also bear witness to one’s truthfulness; standing firm in the face of falsehood; not exaggerating nor diminishing facts etc.  In Al-Ahzab:8, Allaah Said that He Himself will ask the “truthful about their truth…”, while linking the opposite of truthfulness to “a painful torment”. It is interesting to read how the mufasireen explain this Ayah.

The word صِّدِّيقُ (Siddeeq) itself appears in the Qur’an a number of times, and the significance of this term becomes clear when we understand with whom it has been associated with. It has been used to describe Idrees, Ibraheem, Yusuf, (inc. صِدِّيقَ for Maryam) عليهم السلام – For example:

وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ صِدِّيقًا نَّبِيًّا

“And mention in the Book (the Qur’an) Ibraheem. Verily he was siddeeqan (and) a Prophet.” [Maryam, 56]

It is something that reflects the most loftiest of noble attributes, without which even the anbiya’ would not have been selected nor provided with missions, roles and responsibilities to fulfil.

These two specific aspects of Abu Bakr are from some of the reasons why the Ahlus Sunnah hold it integral to their creed that he رضي الله عنهما is the best of mankind after the Prophets and Messengers of Allaah; and indeed the best of all people from the Ummah of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم

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For more on the virtues of Abu Bakr, see section of Ibn Jawzi’s ‘Manaqib as-Sideeq

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